What is evidence-based practice in corrections?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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We can understand what evidence-based practice is simply by looking at its name.  The word “practice” refers to things that are done by the professionals in a given area.  In this case, it refers to things that corrections workers do.  The words “evidence-based” refer to the idea that the practices should be based not on theory, but on evidence.  In other words, corrections professionals should engage in certain practices because there is evidence that those practices work, not because those practices sound good in theory.  The idea of evidence-based practice originated in the field of medicine, but is now used in a variety of fields.

In the field of corrections, a practice is deemed to be effective if it cuts down on the risk that people will commit crimes and if it reduces the rate of recidivism.  Researchers study various kinds of practices to see whether those practices will be effective.  In evidence-based practice, correctional professionals find out which practices have been proven to be effective.  They will then adopt the practices that have been proven (by evidence) to work.

In this link, you can find a number of correctional practices that have been proven to work.  For example, it has been proven that it is better to motivate inmates to change their behavior than it is to persuade them to do so.  Evidence-based practice would, then, include programs that help motivate inmates to change their ways.

Thus, evidence-based practice in corrections consists of taking actions that have been proven effective.  Corrections professionals who are doing evidence-based practice engage in practices only if there is evidence that they work.

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